Former auction company executive Bill Mastro began serving his 20-month prison sentence this week. Mastro is now inmate #44856-424 at the federal camp in Pekin, IL, 180 miles southwest of his Chicago home.
Mastro was sentenced in August, two years after pleading guilty to various types of fraud from 2002-2009 including an ongoing scheme to run up the prices attained at his auctions through shill bids placed on behalf of the company. Mastro also admitted to trimming the edges of the hobby’s most expensive baseball card, a T206 Honus Wagner. After a lengthy investigation, a federal grand jury indicted him in July of 2012.
The larger Pekin facility is a medium security prison and Mastro is one of over 1,200 inmates who reside there. However, he was assigned to the minimum security “camp” that houses over 200 non-violent offenders whose sentences are relatively short.
Life on the inside will be much different than the well-to-do suburbs of Chicago where his company’s multi-million dollar auctions generated headlines. Arriving Monday as per the August order of Judge Ronald Guzman, Mastro was processed through the Receiving and Discharge area by Correctional Systems staff, a unit team member, and medical staff.
According to a federal prison handbook, a social interview and medical screening are done. Inmates are issued an identification card and then go through an “admission and orientation program.”
Mastro was then assigned to his room, one he’ll share with other random inmates but not a traditional prison “cell”. He will share in-room toilet facilities with them.
He received bedding, a locker, a plastic storage bin and a metal chair to sit on. Each inmate is required to make his own bed each morning, “tightly and wrinkle free,” according to the handbook. There is usually one community desk inside the room.
Arising at 5:30 AM, Mastro will spend his days dressed in a uniform. He will likely be assigned a 35-hour per week job, earning what amounts to an allowance of a few dollars a day for mostly manual labor. Inmates report for work at 6:50 AM.
He’ll receive three daily meals with the option to use his own money to buy snacks or other items and will have access to recreational areas at certain times of the day. He’ll be able to send or receive mail but outgoing mail will be inspected before it’s allowed out of the facility. Inmates do have access to television and radio but only until 9:30 PM when lights are turned down.
Mastro will be able to make phone calls to numbers on an approved list but no call can last more than 15 minutes and calls may be monitored or recorded.
He’ll have to stand in his room for head counts at least twice daily.
While sentenced to 20 months, it’s possible Mastro could be released a little earlier than the middle of 2017 if he receives time off for good behavior. In a pre-sentence memoradum, he pledged through his attorneys that he would never work in the sports memorabilia business again.
Mastro could have faced more than five years at Pekin in addition to the $250,000 fine he’s already paid, but cooperated with FBI investigators and government prosecutors who ultimately charged three other employees for their part in the scheme. Former Mastro IT director Bill Boehm was sentenced to a fine and probation earlier this summer while former company president Doug Allen and fellow executive Mark Theotikos have both pleaded guilty and will be sentenced next month.